Rod Argent, (seen here second from the left), English musician, singer, songwriter, composer and record producer chats with Kevin Cooper about finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, working with PledgeMusic, what makes Colin Blunstone so special and the release of The Zombies Collector’s Edition Box Set; In The Beginning.

Rod Argent is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer. In a career spanning more than fifty years, Argent came to prominence in the mid-1960s as founder and keyboardist of the English Progressive Rock band The Zombies, and went on to form the band Argent after The Zombies disbanded in 1967.

Argent is one of the main composers of The Zombies’ music and made major lyrical contributions to the band’s songs, penning the likes of She’s Not There, Tell Her No and Time Of The Season with Chris White. As the band’s keyboardist he used a variety of instruments, including the Mellotron, the harpsichord, and the organ, whilst the role of lead singer was conceded to Colin Bluntstone.

With Argent releasing an album in 1972 called All Together Now, they had a hit single from that album called Hold Your Head Up but later the band broke up in 1976. However, in 2004 Argent and Colin Blunstone recorded a new album, As Far As I Can See…, in the style of The Zombies. A subsequent album and DVD Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent of The Zombies Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre received favourable reviews, as did their 2007 US tour.

Argent continues to tour with Blunstone and in addition to his work with The Zombies and Argent, he has made music for television series, been a session musician, produced albums by other artists, and has had a solo career which has included three studio albums, Moving Home, Red House, and Classically Speaking. In 2019, Argent will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame as a member of The Zombies.

Whilst busy preparing for the release next month of The Zombies Collector’s Edition Box Set: In The Beginning, Rod Argent took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Rod how are you?

I’m absolutely fine thanks Kevin, how are you today?

I am very well thank you and before we move on let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

Not at all mate, it really is a pleasure.

Let me begin by extending my congratulations to you; The Zombies are finally going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. How does that finally feel?

Well to be totally honest with you I still can’t believe it (laughter). We really can’t believe that we have finally got past the winning post (laughter).

I have lost count the number of years that you have been nominated.

(Laughter) I totally know where you are coming from. Out of the last five years we have been nominated four times and to be quite honest I didn’t really expect to be nominated this year. I understand that we got close last year. However, you never know for sure, but I was amazed when we were nominated again. Then when the fans vote was so bloody good; we actually finished fourth in that out of the whole roster, and then we were finally voted in by our peers and the industry people so it really does finally feel fantastic.

You say that it feels fantastic now that the news has finally sunk in, but just how did it feel the day that you received the news?

Do you know what, it really was a mixture of feelings starting with feeling really elated but then almost feeling quite peaceful (laughter). It was like ‘yes we have finally turned the corner’ and I suppose that it is a bit like the Oscars in a way. I know that it is regarded a bit less over here in the UK than it is over in the States, because believe me it is a really big deal in the States and I suppose that it is something that will never be deleted. In a hundred years time people will hopefully look back through the records and they will see The Zombies name still there, if anyone ever does. It is there along with all of my heroes; people like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, The Beatles, to name but a few. It really is absolutely unbelievable.

When I first saw the list of inductees I was so pleased to see that two of my favourite bands of all time had finally made it on there; Roxy Music and The Zombies.

That’s fantastic, thank you very much. It’s so kind of you to say that.

Correct me if I am wrong but is it true that the induction ceremony will take place exactly fifty years to the day that Time Of The Season went to number one in the States?

(Laughter) isn’t it funny how these kind of things work out. There were two major magazines out at the time over there in the States; Cash Box and Billboard. However, sadly Cash Box no longer exists. I know that whenever The Beatles talk about their very first number one in the States, they always detail Cash Box. If anything Cash Box was the more important magazine of the two. Having said that they were both huge industry magazines. I think that we made number two in Billboard but in Cash Box, 29th March 1969 was the day that Cash Box was published and clearly showed Time Of The Season sitting at number one in the charts. So yes you are correct, the induction ceremony will be exactly fifty years since Time Of The Season was at number one over there in the USA.

Isn’t it bizarre just how these things work out?

It really is unbelievable. That really is a ridiculous milestone isn’t it, exactly fifty years to the day (laughter). That feels a bit spooky actually (laughter).

I personally feel that over the past few years there has been a real resurgence of interest in The Zombies, especially in the States. Would you agree?

Yes there has and as you quite rightly say, particularly in the States. Having said that we are noticing that a lot of people all around the world are now interested in just what we are getting up to. That’s one of the reasons why out of the last five years we have been nominated four times to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. We have been eligible to be nominated since way back in 1986 but it has all happened during the last five years. We now play to some great audiences in the States, in fact we have played five tours in the last two years in America. The tour before last we opened in New York and we played three days there. When Colin and I first got back together, just for fun, we didn’t really expect it to lead to anything.

We really did just enjoy playing together for a few gigs. It is that which has turned into performing all around the world for the past nineteen years (laughter). Here is an extraordinary illustration for you; when The Zombies were first together and Argent were playing to promote a big hit in America, neither band really made it in the Southern States. And that was still true when Colin and I first went back into the States with this incarnation of The Zombies. I remember clearly about ten years ago now saying to Colin “we have got a couple of days in Florida and I am really not looking forward to that because there won’t be anybody there”. However, we turned up and it was absolutely packed (laughter).

By that time during our second incarnation we had been touring Florida, Georgia, and all around the Southern States for several years and we had never had good audiences. However, suddenly things seem to change overnight and we seemed to hit a critical point. So now whenever we play in Florida it’s always to sold-out houses and the same in Georgia. We played the South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) a few years ago now and Prince at the time was performing next door almost at the same time to us. Again I said to Colin “what’s the point of all this, there is going to be nobody there”. I really did feel that it was terrible timing. However, once again the place was absolutely rammed; the place was packed.

It was at that point that I really did start to feel that things had changed for The Zombies and they really have. Suddenly, people had by that point started to realise who we were, and even better than that, our songs are now getting used on everything (laughter). One of my favourite TV series is The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel which is currently being shown on Amazon. There have been two seasons and my wife and I were recently finishing binge watching the second series well into the early hours and to my amazement, there it was, at the end of the whole series, they played the whole, full length version of This Will Be Our Year from Odessey And Oracle over the whole of the closing credits. I just sat there and thought ‘my goodness’ and I have to be honest with you and say that it made me feel so good inside (laughter).

On the subject of Odessey And Oracle, there has been a renewed interest in the album especially as last year was the fiftieth anniversary of its release.

Yes there has, there really has. Back in 2008 Chris White the original bass player in the band had been along many times to see Colin, me and the second incarnation as a band and totally loved it. He said to me after one show “do you realise that the band broke up before Odessey And Oracle was released and we have never played it live”. I just looked at him and said “do you know you are right” (laughter). Colin and I had played a few of the songs on the album which worked with just a five piece, because we did overdubs and stuff on that album. Having said that some of the songs only worked when you had the Mellotron overdub with my original keyboard part.

I obviously couldn’t play both instruments at once so we decided to reproduce every single note that was on the original album. We did that back in 2008 at Shepherds Bush Empire and we put the show on for one night only. However, the show sold out in a matter of minutes so we finished up playing three nights. We simply could not believe who came along to see us. Dear old Paul Weller bought tickets for all three nights. He also sent us a huge magnum of Champagne which really was very sweet of him. The whole of the three days really were successful. At that time I thought that it would be impossible for us to do this over in America; I simply thought that it was too big an operation.

I personally thought that it was far too big a production to take to America but eventually we did just that. On the fiftieth anniversary of the recording of the album which was in 2017 we finally managed to tour America with it. We got most of the members of the current Brian Wilson Band to join us and sing the extra harmonies that we had originally overdubbed. Some of the songs like Hung Up On A Dream and Changes only really work when everything is in place whilst others will work with just a five piece band. It was really successful and a lot of the real heavyweights of the American music industry came along to see it.

During that period we became really good friends with the late Tom Petty who was an original fervent supporter of ours together with lots of other people as well. And I have to say that it has all been a part of the mix really. We received some wonderful reviews for the album from the American press and I have to say that has been really nice as well. It has been really great for us to both rediscover and reinvent that album if you like. Odessey And Oracle has now become a cult album. It is at number one hundred in The Rolling Stone Magazine top hundred albums of all time and it sells more and more copies each and every year now than when it first came out.

Are you proud of the album?

Yes I am, I really am and in fact we all are. We all thought at the time that it was the very best that we could do. Chris White and I produced the album simply because we were sick of having our songs not coming out the way that we heard them in our heads. So by producing it ourselves we ended up with something that was how we wanted the songs to sound. Having said that we had some great engineers at Abbey Road. In fact there were some iconic engineers down there who had just recorded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with The Beatles. And I have to say that we really benefited from that. As I have previously said, we all thought that it was the best that we could do; it got some great reviews but sadly nobody played it so we broke up.

With hindsight, did the band break up too early?

(Laughter) well that all depends upon which way you look at it. The thing is that we had a mixed organisation when we were younger; we had an incredibly honest production and publishing side of what we were doing. We actually received all of the money that we were due particularly from the song writing so Chris and I were never really badly off. However, back in those days we were very much based here in the UK because it was a much bigger deal to travel abroad to play, which meant that Colin and Paul Atkinson, who was just about to get married, just didn’t have any money. We really were badly ripped off by the management side of things at that time so there wasn’t a lot of money coming in from that side of things.

So the other guys in the band were saying “look we have got to move on but let’s see if something happens at the end of this album”. So we put out the first single which was Care Of Cell 44 and nothing happened. I remember going on The Kenny Everett Show, and I have to say that Kenny was one of our few real supporters within the industry, who actually played some of the songs on his show. He said to me ”oh my lovelies you are breaking up” and I said “yes, but this is the situation Ken” and straight away he said “shouldn’t the album come out first”. I told him that I had other ideas and that I wanted to move on and Chris and I at that time were in the process of forming Argent. Chris was actually a silent partner as a producer and co-writer with me but he didn’t want to play any more gigs at that point.

So we had that on the go, but at the same time Chris and I were thinking about putting a solo album together for Colin, which we did. It was called One Year and it spawned a huge hit; Say You Don’t Mind and I have to say that it really is a lovely album to this day. So all in all we simply wanted to move on really.

In January 2018 we sadly lost your cousin and Argent founder member James Walter Rodford. I have to ask you, just how good was Jim?

Jim was great. He was a huge enabler and a huge energiser. Just four days before he died he had a bit of a virus but he was still giving his all on stage like he always did in Florida. We came home and four days later he was dead. Jim was suffering from jetlag, so his wife went to bed, while Jim stayed up till around three o’clock in the morning. At some point he tripped on the stairs, fell down them hitting his head quite badly which eventually caused heart failure. And sadly that was the end of Jim. It was just so tragic and so sudden. I can remember when Jim joined The Kinks, both Ray (Davies) and Dave (Davies) thought that Jim was fantastic.

He was such a shot of energy and Jim joining The Kinks coincided with them really becoming big once again in America. He played on their biggest ever album, State Of Confusion which had Come Dancing on it, which was a number one in America. Jim was just a great guy. He was the guy that throughout my life introduced me to Rock and Roll. He would play me Elvis (Presley) records when I was eleven years old. He gave me the passion and the taste for actually forming a band. He really was just a great guy. Everyone who Jim worked with thought the world of him.

On Sunday 20th January 2019 you are playing a show in memory of him at The Alban Arena, St. Albans. I am thinking that will be quite emotional.

Yes it will but it is something that we all felt we needed to do. We all wanted to make it on the absolute anniversary of the day that he died, and as you know Jim died on the 20th January so one year later on the 20th January we are playing at The Alban Arena. I have to tell you that the people at The Alban Arena very sweetly rearranged their schedule; they actually got someone to postpone their gig that they were doing that night which made it free for us. And that is exactly what we are doing.

On Friday 22nd February you are releasing a Collector’s Edition Box Set; In The Beginning containing the albums Here, Odessey And Oracle, Early Days, Continue Here and R.I.P, together for the very first time on vinyl. Are you happy with the final product?

Yes I am, I truly am. As you can imagine we had an awful lot of material that we had recorded originally but as you say, this is a vinyl collection of all of those original records. It has once again been put together graphically by designer Phil Smee’s extensive collection of photographs. Phil is an old friend; a very talented guy and a huge fan of ours in St. Albans so it really is a local production if you like which is something that I personally like (laughter). It is just so lovely to finally have it out on vinyl. We find that whenever we tour in America these days whilst we have a very mixed audience there is usually quite a big contingent of young people that come along to see us.

I’m so pleased that with everything being streamed these days; hardly anyone is buying CD’s anymore. However, the younger generation is discovering the pleasure of owning a twelve inch album that you can open, make a real event of putting it on and listen to from start to finish rather than just having it on as wallpaper in the background.

Without wanting to get anyone into trouble, I recently spoke to Colin and he told me that he thought that Santana’s cover of She’s Not There was better than your version…

Oh did he indeed (laughter).

How would you respond to that?

I actually don’t think that’s true. In fact I personally think that they are both very different. I think that what Carlos did, and he has actually said this, Carlos says that Bill Graham from The Fillmore in San Francisco said to him “you should record She’s Not there”. Carlos goes on to say that he listened to the record quite a few times thinking of just how he would record it and in the end he agreed simply because he said that he felt an inherent Latin feeling that was hinted at in the song and that is absolutely true. That really was very perceptive of him especially as we didn’t record it that way and he concentrated on that because that is what Santana is.

So in truth I adored their version. Santana are one of my favourite bands and it was that single which got them back into the American charts again after a pretty dry period of a few years. I was really over the moon with that. I thought that it was a brilliant version; they put their own stamp on it which was great. So I don’t think that it is better than our version. I always remember the very first time that I was introduced to Pat Metheny and it was just when he was becoming well known. I was introduced to Pat by a Jazz artist who really didn’t know who I was, a guy called Jeff Berlin who I had been introduced to by the late Gary Moore.

To my surprise Pat Metheny turned around, looked at me and said “Rod Argent, you’re the guy who wrote She’s Not there” and he went onto say “that was the record that made me think that I had a way ahead doing what I want to do”. I didn’t know what to say so I just thanked him a lot for his kind comments (laughter). So taking everything on board I honestly think that our version has a real feeling of originality about it, its own atmosphere; so in its own way I think that it is just as good and I also like the Santana version equally. Having said that, I don’t think that their version is better.

So is Colin’s job safe for the time being?

I don’t know about that. I will be having words with him about this (laughter).

The Zombies were part of The British Invasion; were they good times?

It was brilliant. I often say that I remember being turned onto Rock and Roll when I was eleven years old by my late cousin, Jim Rodford. Jim was four years older than me and he played me some stuff back in 1956. He first played me some stuff by Bill Hayley and I thought ‘well it’s okay’ (laughter). After that he played me Elvis (Presley) singing Hound Dog, and it completely turned my whole world around. At the age of eleven I then saw some early footage of Elvis and you have to remember that in those days the cultural differences between the UK and America and especially the music scene were so far apart it was almost unimaginable.

And yet, with our very first record which I wrote and we recorded when we were just eighteen years old, not only did we have a number one in America, but I later found out that Elvis had it on his jukebox at Graceland’s. To go over to America at the age of eighteen, just seven years after I had heard this wonderful unimaginable stuff from a world that I didn’t know existed, to being on top of America at the age of eighteen, going over to play our very first gig in America with some of our heroes, people like The Drifters, Ben E King, Patti LaBelle, all of these wonderful black soul artists, it completely blew us away. But I have to say that they took us to their hearts as well.

It really was a wonderful experience and a wonderful exposure for the music that we has started to really love. We had many chats with Patti LaBelle and she said to me “you have got to check out this new kid on the block, Aretha Franklin” (laughter). She then said “you really have got to listen to this artist she’s called Nina Simone”. We went down all of those paths. She told us about growing up in the Black American church and how that moulded what she was doing. For us to be on an equal footing and to be accepted by them, our heroes, it was just a fantasy when we were just eighteen years old.

At what part in your career did you feel the most musically satisfied?

(Laughter) I have to be honest with you and say that there hasn’t been one. I have always loved the cliché term that people call the journey if you like and it has taken me into so many different avenues and I have honestly loved that. I have loved being a part of The Zombies and developing things along those lines. I loved what happened with Argent; trying out different directions there. After that I loved widening my horizons with writing music together with both movie and television scores. I have enjoyed producing other artists, playing on their records, and then in this second incarnation with Colin which started around the year 2000, in some ways I’m more proud of that than anything.

As always we started again playing for enthusiasm and for fun, not to try to rake over the embers; we didn’t want to do anything like that. We played six gigs for fun which has turned into nineteen years of travelling around the world, five tours of America in the last two years; we have really built something in that second incarnation. We have really built it to another level in America. Colin and I joke that we are an emerging rock band (laughter). I personally think that the current band is better than it has ever been.

Do you have a favourite Zombies song?

No I don’t really. Although I guess that if I had to choose then I might sentimentally chose She’s Not There. And that would be a favourite because it was the one that we started out with, it was so successful around the world, although I have to say that apart from here in the UK the most successful song by far that we have ever had in the world was Time Of The Season. But in the UK it was She’s Not There and it was such a magical feeling to be eighteen years old and to see all of our fantasies being fulfilled and with something which I still feel is good. So for purely sentimental reasons I would most probably choose She’s Not There.

In 2006 you played with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. I recently spoke to Graham Gouldman who played with the band last year and he said that it was a bundle of fun. Was that the same for you?

It really was great. I love Ringo’s feel on the drums, I always have done. There have been some smart arses whom have gone round saying “of course Ringo is not even the best drummer in The Beatles” but that is bollocks. You only have to listen to how he intuitively and immediately contributed to some of those great early singles. His drum ideas on things such as Ticket To Ride, are simply brilliant. I love his invention and I love his rolling feel. Playing with Ringo was something that I really only wanted to do once because whilst it was fantastic to play with him, it was for a couple of months, and having done it once was brilliant but I think that I am selfish enough to realise that I really want to concentrate on all the touring that I have got left in me on our own stuff. One of the highlights for me is that I got to share a dressing room with Edgar Winter and I have to say that Edgar really is a fine musician and I had a great time with him.

In October 2015 you released Still Got The Hunger. Were you happy with the fans reaction to the album?

Yes I was, I really was. The amazing thing is that it is still selling and I love that. When the album came out we were actually on tour in the States in late 2015. Whilst on tour we actually got a phone call from Billboard Magazine. It was so sweet of them to call us up, and they said “we just wanted you to know that for the first time in fifty years with The Zombies you have got an album in the top one hundred album charts”. It was fantastic to hear that. Steven Van Zandt, who you will no doubt know for being a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, together with his solo work as Little Steven And The Disciples of Soul, has since 2002 hosted Little Steven’s Underground Garage; a weekly syndicated radio show that celebrates garage rock and similar rock subgenres from the 1950s to the present day. Steven, on his underground show, played to death the first track on the album, Moving On. He actually chose that song as one of his favourite singles of the year.

In my opinion the songs on Still Got The Hunger, especially Moving On really did sound like The Zombies of old. They could have been recorded forty or fifty years ago. Is that what you were hoping to achieve?

Well I would have to say that it is what we are naturally. Moving On goes to that sort of very jazzy piano break in the middle that I insist on and what I always enjoy doing (laughter). Which I have to say is not how people in a song like that perhaps would normally play but it felt right to me.

You worked with PledgeMusic on Still Got The Hunger; how was that experience?

I have to say that working with PledgeMusic was absolutely great. It enabled us to carry out just what we wanted to do with that album. We had recently played for the first time Odessey And Oracle from start to finish with the original guys plus the current band so we could cover every note that was on the record. Over just one day, because that is all that we could afford to do, we had recorded one of the shows and we had made a live album out of it. Obviously we were all playing live, because that is what it was, and unlike some bands version of a live album it really was all live. It was a live recording of one of the shows. We absolutely loved that experience.

I have produced loads of stuff in my lifetime and I said to the guys “why don’t we go right back in principal to the mid-60s, why don’t we record in the sense that we recorded then with everybody in the same room at the same time, with us all listening to Colin’s guide vocal as we are playing, we will just add the backing vocals later and maybe we will add the solos later”. So we bought in a great producer, Chris Potter, who has worked a lot with the likes of The Verve and The Rifles, and we went into this great studio which had a fantastic Steinway piano and Hammond organ in it. We thought that basically we would try to do this over a two week period and then give Chris two weeks to mix it; one track per day.

We thought that for the first five days we would all play in the same room together thus creating that inter-personal relationship so that everybody was listening to everybody else; everyone was reacting in the moment to help Colin’s singing and we were moulding our phrases around how he was singing, and how everyone was playing whilst listening to each other. And that is what we did and I have to say that it worked so well. For a while Chris was suspicious of the process and said “listen, I really do think that we should record this to a click track just in case we have to grab a bit from another tape or if we want to add something later” and we all said “no, we just want it to be like we did it in the 60s”.

So we played and it worked so well that all of the guide vocals became the master vocals with a little bit of patching up and even the solos; we didn’t have to edit any of them. The whole thing became a process as it was back in the 60s of capturing the moment. What actually happened on a couple of tracks was it took a little longer to mould into shape, but typically we put the whole of the first version of the track; in other words the track, the solos, and the guide vocal which became the master vocal, in about three hours just like we used to in the early days. We recorded the whole album like that in just a week so that in the following week we had the luxury of working and spending time on the backing vocals, which was great.

So for the following two weeks Chris was able to mix a track a day and the album was completed. But for us to be able to do that it is far more expensive because we couldn’t do anything in any of our studios, in fact I was actually moving house at the time so I didn’t have access to my studio, which meant that we had to get the finances together at the beginning in order to allow us to hire the studio that we wanted, and to hire Chris, who really wanted to do it but he is a top producer so we had to give him a proper amount of money. And the PledgeMusic campaign enabled us to do that so we are hugely grateful to people for allowing us to do that.

I personally feel that PledgeMusic campaigns make the fans feel that much closer to the band and also a part of what they are doing.

Yes I do, I really do hope so. I really do think that on this occasion it really did. They know that we are hugely grateful to each and every one of them. We tried to make that very clear to them. That is not bullshit I really do mean that.

They say that you should never believe your own publicity but when a certain Rick Wakeman says that you “played the greatest organ solo ever” on Hold Your Head Up, just how did that make you feel?

What can I say, I totally believe my own press (laughter). It is something that Rick has kindly said before and someone rang me up after hearing it and said “do you know that I have just heard Rick Wakeman being interviewed on the Johnny Walker show and he has said that you played the greatest organ solo ever on Hold Your Head Up” so I pulled it up and I have to say that it was so gracious of him and so sweet to say such lovely things about me. He then went onto say that in his opinion he feels that I get overlooked and that without any question that was the best organ solo on any track on any record. It really was such a fantastic thing for Rick to say and it really did make me feel over the moon. It was just after Christmas and it made my Christmas I can tell you.

Are there currently any thoughts on a new Zombies studio album?

Yes there are. Once we had finished Still Got That Hunger we were all very happy with it, and we loved going out playing it and presenting it to the fans and one thing that I love is that no matter how big the show is, we can always play Time Of The Season which always goes down a complete storm. We can play one of the tracks from the new album and it will get just as much of a reaction from the younger fans too. That is so gratifying and I loved spending a couple of years just enjoying playing and working the tracks in on stage and getting a lovely reaction. And now I am really looking forward to writing the new album.

I have already written one song for the new album which I would love to play live. Our next tour is a five day cruise in Florida and the track that I have just written, we are going to be introducing into the live set. And wherever possible, I would love to play four or five of the new songs before they get recorded because they all assume an identity of their own once you start playing them live. You start to feel more comfortable with the new songs. They tend to flow more easily and it all becomes more natural. We did that with Moving On before we recorded it, and I love the result on the album.

The Zombies made many appearances on TV here in the UK but sadly never appeared on Top Of The Pops. So I have to ask you how was your first appearance with Argent on the show?

That’s perfectly correct, as The Zombies we never performed on Top Of The Pops but I did a few years later with Argent. My first appearance on Top Of The Pops with Argent came about because we had decided, along with quite a few other bands at that time, not to release any singles and simply concentrate on albums. We put out the album All Together Now which contained Hold Your Head Up which as you know was a six and a half minute track which is basically a three minute song plus me for another three minutes (laughter). In spite of its length Alan Freeman loved the track and we got one play per week on the radio because Alan Freeman played it every Saturday.

Unbelievably it started to nibble just outside the top thirty in that form. We then went on tour to Holland and while we were on tour we received a phone call from CBS who were at that time our record company, who said “we have edited out the organ solo because it is three minutes and we think that we could get a hit out of this”. We listened to the edit and we hated it. We thought that it was a really crude edit that diminished the song to some extent (laughter). Anyway CBS released it; it went straight into the top thirty, and at that point Top Of The Pops were all over the band. We returned home after the tour some three weeks later and immediately we got the call saying “We would like you to do Top Of The Pops”’.

I remember playing on there and quite enjoying it actually. The day after we played on Top Of The Pops we had a gig in Sheffield. As we were driving through the town we saw these enormous queues going round and round the block and I said to the rest of the band “has there been a James Bond film released?” and then Bob Henrit said “oh good god it’s for us” (laughter). It really was quite extraordinary. The single was then selling twelve thousand copies a day; figures that would put artists into the stratosphere these days. It was so amazing and it made such a huge difference to us, and our Top Of The Pops experience. I really do remember it so well.

Also what I remember quite clearly is just how small the studios were. On one of Argents early appearances on Top Of The Pops Howlin’ Wolf was down to appear on the show. The show was going out live, and the studio manager started to get really agitated because he said “we haven’t heard anything from Howlin’ Wolf and he’s headlining the show. Oh god what are we going to do”. And then at the very last second Howlin’ Wolf walked into the studio. The studio manager was so fantastically relieved that he ran over to Howlin’ Wolf and said “ah Mr Wolf or may I call you Howlin’’ (laughter). We just cracked up as it was the funniest thing that we had ever heard (laughter).

In your opinion is the record industry currently in a good place?

(Laughter) did you really need to ask me that question (laughter). Personally I find a lot of today’s music sounds machine like. The one big thing that I really do hate about modern music is the fact that no one bothers to really learn to sign in tune anymore simply because it can all be auto tuned. So when you put the auto tune on you get this mechanical and metallic sound to the vocals which takes away the soul for me.

That is of course if they can even be bothered to sing. Why sing when you can mime?

I know I can’t believe it. Recently we were over in the Philippines, and I won’t say who it was because it is not my place to bring anyone down, but it was quite an older artist who is mega, mega famous who didn’t bother to sing at all. He just mimed along to the music. Don’t people realise what these people are doing? They simply don’t care. I thought ‘this is so soulless, I hate it’. The thing that I love about playing live gigs is that we never play a solo twice the same; if someone goes in a certain direction, everyone else really listens and goes off with them. I love that. Why pay good money to watch somebody mime; why not simply buy the CD instead, I just don’t get it.

What was the first record that you bought?

The very first pop record that I ever bought was actually Singing The Blues by Tommy Steele And The Steelman.

Who did you first see performing live?

I was about twelve years old and my cousin Jim was in a Skiffle band which very soon became one of the very first electric bands in the south of England called The Bluetones. I came home from that gig and said “as soon as I can I am going to form a band”.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

Oh my goodness me. You bugger, you have caught me on the hop there. Not that long ago I heard the Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush song Don’t Give Up. I think that it is a wonderful song and there is really genuine feeling in it and that made me cry.

Just what makes Colin Blunstone so special?

I think the fact that he was born with a very singular voice, and that voice has changed over the years just like everybody’s voice changes. I personally feel that in some ways Colin’s voice is now better than it was when he first started. It has a different quality now, a different character, and he has got the same range, in fact we both have; simply because we both exercise our voices and work on them. I think that you can keep the same thing but you have to work at it. Whenever we are out on tour Colin will do a whole hour of vocal exercises throughout the day every single day on the tour. I think that our band at the moment has got better chops than we have ever had in every way.

But as I have said before, you have to work at it. When you were eighteen and you could sing naturally; well certainly this is true of Colin, you can keep it if you are prepared to work at it and Colin does just that. He really is dedicated to these things.

On that note Rod let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today. It really is appreciated. Bye for now.

It’s been a pleasure Kevin, thank you so much for your time. We really do always have a lovely chat and I really do appreciate it. You take care and I hope to see you soon.